KORONADAL, SOUTH COTABATO – As the First National Indigenous Peoples Women Gathering drew to a close here Sunday, lumad women outlined the stark realities of everyday life in the countryside, including challenges they face as well as their responses to these challenges.
Judy Pasimio, lead facilitator at the Gathering, observed at the end of discussions and workshops, that “the lumad women’s sensibilities are able to provide powerful and sharp details of the everyday realities of their lives in the communities.”
Pasimio added that these stories will be woven into one communal and collective story.
At day-long workshops that began on Friday, July 22, around 60 lumad women from all over the country discussed a wide range of challenges they face on various levels, from the personal to the collective.
The discussions revolved around various issues, from violence against women, women’s health and well-being, literacy and livelihood to intrusions into lumad ancestral domains, like mining and logging companies and giant dams.
The women further expressed the need for empowerment, in the areas of education and literacy in order to end discrimination against women.
They also asserted that there should be more women visibility and participation in community governance.
They also stressed the need for the government to develop programs integrating women and women’s needs, including the provision of health services through the different phases of women’s lives as they go through puberty, pregnancy and even menopause and ageing.
They also said they needed to learn more about research and documentation in order to understand the different dimensions of the causes and advocacies they are supporting.
“We need to know the many aspects of all the causes we are defending,” said Liticia Gomez of the Paaralang Bayang ng mga Agta ng Zambales.
Bai Rose Undag of the Kahiusahang sa Higaonon, added that, “We need to know how to document cases of human rights violations, as well as the laws on forestry and natural resources management.”
The results of the workshops are being synthesized into a single document that they would like to be integrated into the State of the Indigenous Peoples Address.
The FNIPG is sponsored by the Philippine Human Rights Information Center, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Christian Aid . Other funding contributors include the Paul Feyerabende Fund, Global Greensupport Fund, Fund for the Philippine Environment and Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc.
The women come from IP communities like the Ibaloi, Kankaney and Ifugao in the Cordillara, the Ati from the Visayas and the Subanen, T’bol, Manobo, Mandaya, Higaonon, Mamanwa from Mindanao.